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Investing Specialists

Ready to Build? Housing Market Showing Some Signs of Life

Was Lennar's stellar fourth quarter a housing fluke? Stay tuned for next week's data.

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As usual, news from Europe continued to dominate markets. The markets cheered well-received bond auctions in Spain and Italy midweek, and then panicked on rumors of more sovereign debt downgrades later in the week (which turned into real downgrades late in the day).

Maybe it was a good thing that investors weren't paying attention to U.S. economic data or earnings. Volatile initial unemployment claims jumped again, the trade deficit expanded, and the official retail sales report for December was basically flat compared with November, even worse than last week's same-store sales report. Nothing here to panic over, just normal volatility, in my opinion. I had suspected some early weakness in 2012, and it now appears that some of that weakening began in December. On a year-over-year basis, the economic data didn't look nearly as scary.

Robert Johnson, CFA does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.